Saturday, July 24, 2010

The ART of Graffiti at Benrimon Contemporary

And I thought I was cool when I learned how to do bubble letters in Junior High!

Aight New Yorkers, ya'll know graffiti when you see it with tags and characters. This exhibit at Benrimon Contemporary takes the appreciation and beauty of its work to a new level. The work will be up until August 10, 2010.

Now when I walked outside after viewing the show, there was a couple that asked me about what exhibit was being shown. I tried to sell it but not everyone understands or wants to appreciate graffiti. Whether you think you do or not, there is no harm in checking it out. Either you will gain an appreciation you didn't have before or be further impressed with the kind of work that can be done with an aerosol can.

"An urban art culture has grown in popularity and adapted various forms, art dealers saw an opportunity to promote a new art form within the white walls of a gallery" Press release

When I visited the gallery, I had a chance to talk with curator Mario Ramos. He along with Claudia Bumbas are owners of 1HUNDREDB, a LES storefront that serves the urban art culture.

Featured are pieces by PNUT, Cap1, Stayhigh149, Noc167, Richard Hambleton among others with tribute to Keith Haring and Jean-Michel Basquiat. Stayhigh149 has a NYPD ticket dated 1969 proving that he is one of the founders of bringing street art to the masses.

On their blog or flickr page they also have pics from opening night with the numerous artists it includes. I included an example where it looks like the event was a nice chance for the artists to show appreciation for each others work and for fans to meet in person the mysterious artists who's work they've only seen on the streets.
"Graffiti on the subways cars was a phenomenon witnesses by New York City's straphangers during the early 70's and lasting in intensity until 1989."Press release

Mario is an awesome guy and this is an awesome show. When I walked in 2 days after the opening (which had over 1,000 people) , I could still smell the fresh paint from a live installation (subways doors included ;)) done on one of the gallery walls. He pointed out that while looking at the tags on the mural, it may look like a mess at first, the taggers respect each other's space. If by accident someone writes over someone else's tag, the offender would write "Sorry" to the other person..

We talked about how the form of art has become one more thing to issue fines or jail times for. Some parts of Europe are turning into what NY was in the 70s and 80s, as NY artists seek places around the world to express themselves.

The freedom of expression NYC once had and was known for is now highly regulated

Artists now are now using stickers to leave their mark.

Now advertisers are leaving their mark on the subways. $$$$$$$$$$ (To the MTA that if given all the money they would need to get out of their convenient deficit, would still have NO IDEA how to manage their money. Honestly I feel if business students took on the MTA finances, they would have it solved in a semester)....but anyway.
What are your thoughts on the branded subway cars? Would you prefer that, plain or cars done with original art?

I recommend checking out the work at Benrimon Contemporary so you have a better perspective to answer that question (if you don't have the experience of all 3 in the subway already).

Monday, July 19, 2010

"See, Also" goes beyond sight at Central Booking Art Space in DUMBO

"See, Also" is currently being held at Central Booking Art Space in DUMBO [111 Front Street] and will run until August 18. The show was really enjoyable as it brought out the curiosity in all of its visitors with various interactive works. 

The show was curated by Omar Olivera, a native Brooklynite now residing in Queens and part of the Central Booking team. He also included a piece in the show that made pixels fun and colorful. Most of us encounter pixels when we enlarge a picture too much, taking something we are familiar with and turning it to a nearly unrecognizable and grainy image. Omar

 turned what would appear to be unrecognizable into something fun 
by taking the pixel out of the picture allowing it to stand on its own to create its own image.

While I described pixels as taking a picture and enlarging it, the way Omar approaches the use of pixels reminds me of the Impression style of painting. The technique used with Impressionistic work is that colors aren't blended perfectly, the human eye is a part of completing the illusion. So while the colors in a painting can, from a far, appear to be blended well, when you get up close, you see the brush stokes and the separate colors of paint. Omar celebrates those stokes and colors.

Part of his work includes a light box and several patterns of pixels printed on transparencies, a way for the audience to experience layering pixels and allowing the eye to blend the colors together. Another part of his piece took up an entire wall of Central Booking Art Space which was pretty much a large painting of pixels.

Another artist featured at "See, Also" was Andrea Uva who included work from her Braille series. Her work can be seen here on her website. It is certainly an interesting concept in providing those who can't see, the opportunity to still experience works of art in an objective and descriptive way. In her words:
"The purpose is to allow the visually impaired to experience art by stripping a painting of its paint and reducing it to a type of language code."

Even how the works are created feels thoughtful.

Other works in the show included a carton of drained eggs. The eggs had their form and a note was inside each egg. Now how would you get to the note? Well you would have to crack the egg!! The only slightly messy part were all the shells. It was fun to see people's reactions to this piece which ranged from skeptical to "haha, this is pretty cool....I wanna crack another one."

Another work that caught my attention was several dozen drawing on paper each hung by a silver binderclip on a horizontal line along a wall. The drawings were very neat with clean lines and hardly showed any erasures. The drawings did not seem connected to one another. Part of the experience was just the act of  thumbing through them wondering what was going to be seen next.

You should experience it for yourself.

Conceived by respected and accomplished artist/curator, Maddy Rosenberg, Central Booking’s objective is two-fold: create a distinctive space where the virtually infinite forms and range of book art and prints can be seen in one place while simultaneously providing both established and emerging practitioners of the genres with an outlet for their work. Central Booking’s overall mission is global in scope: to serve as a catalyst for the integration of artist’s books into the mainstream art world where they are now often marginalized.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Part 2: Artists Panel Discussion at Priska C. Juschka Fine Art

Here is the conclusion of what the artists thoughts were on their work and the process of creation.

Your thoughts on the divide between ideals and evidence. What you want to convey versus what you see.

Here was when Tom put an interesting spin saying that art is one type of documentation that is allowed to be correct. Very good point. It can stir controversy but noone can argue that the artist's view is incorrect. My thoughts are that everything we experience day in and day out go through our filters, our experience and what we interpret from them are 'correct' to us. So everyone can have various 'correct' versions of the same event. 

Inventing work with its own internal logic or leave something for the audience to grasp?

Lisa's work "Pontiac Kingston" is of a car dealership that had closed. It's painted in a way to have the cars, the lot and building appear to be melting. Pretty cool execution in my opinion. So with this piece, Lisa does little of both; it's not very literal and involves some thought by the viewer to interpret what's going on. Our work, as Kamrooz puts it, is an abstract reflection of the world in which we live.

Liz originally was doing paintings just for her and later on wanted the audience to connect and have an experience with her work. So I ask, as artist ourselves, how are we able to connect to work that inspires us? Perhaps the person that created it had us in mind when creating their work.

For Ryan, part of being an artist is creating your own world with its own dialog and rules. I agree, not everyone will get it. I'll add that everyone that experiences a piece adds a little more dimension to it. A work can grow infinitely through the experiences of others. 

At this point in the panel discussion, I can rely on Tom to sum things up in his concise way: An artist is someone that creates art for an audience, if you are doing it for yourself, it's a hobby. If there is no communication with the viewers, it's not art.

Do you have more in common with conceptual or abstract style?

Kamrooz identifies with abstract expressionism though he adds that it's problematic for artists to be asked to take a position. True, sometimes it's hard to put your work into a category. 

Liz doesn't consider herself a figurative painter (you can view her piece by clicking here) and would identify with being more conceptual. For her, an abstract piece would need to be planned, she couldn't start something with the intention of it being abstract. Instead, she would allow the process to dictate the style.

Tom's one-liner was that abstract is art being made in conceptual terms.

For Lisa's answer to the above question, she says that it depends on what it is that drives the starting of the painting. Good point.

Ryan considers himself to be an abstract artist as he is driven by the relationship with colors. So when one color is in one area of the canvas, he would think about what other color would compliment it.

Do your paintings surprise you?

For Lisa it does. Since her work, along with what other artists experience, changes in the process of creating it, the outcome does surprise her.

Discuss source material as it relates to your work.

Source material is important to all the artists in the panel (and for me too). It is very important for Ryan who uses newspapers, magazines, his own pictures, and the internet. He would tack on the wall images that he's considering using for a painting. They may be on the wall for a while and then he'll let his instincts take over. For example when new canvas arrives to his place, he'll know what picture would be painted on what canvas. 

Lisa travels a lot so the subject matter for her work leads her to visit places in person. She would do sketches on location as well as take pictures. She would even use found objects for some of her work. She told a story about finding a litter box on the side of the road in the town where she lives and it had been there for a while. She ended up taking in and painting it.

The internet is a common source of pictures. Tom uses it too and in fact, draws from his monitor! I admit to doing that too :) After this initial sketch, he'll do a larger one before sketching to the canvas. Tom adds that source material is important to make work more credible.

Liz would look for images online and print them out while researching a topic or concept of interest. She'll let the idea stew for a while before starting a painting. 

Kamrooz also uses source material such as patterns and photos of textures and would get ideas from carpet stores. He also made a link between Persian rugs and conceptual painting as there is a story and context behind those rugs. However, over time, the history and meaning has been lost to where it is now only something pretty.

What musician or band has influenced your work?

Ryan: Nirvana
Lisa: The Doors
Kamrooz: Bob Dylan
Tom: Frank Sinatra 

Thanks everyone for reading! If you're an artist reading this post, it'll be interesting to hear what your answers to any of these questions would be.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Big Strokes & Big Quotes at the "Big Picture" Panel @PJFA (Priska C. Juschka Fine Art)

Folks, this is one cool exhibit. It will be up until August 6 so I hope you get a chance to see it. You can preview the works on display here:

A Little Bit About the Gallery:
The former Williamsburg gallery, founded in 2001, has been in Chelsea since 2005 at 547 W. 27th Street on the 2nd floor. 

"...the gallery wishes to create a continuous dialogue with both the local and global community." 

That can be seen in the works in its current show that addresses issues related to the economy, family, entertainment, being human, music and other topics.

The Panel:
The panel discussion was lead by David Coggins who is a contributing blogger for leading culture magazine Interview.

The curators of "Big Picture" Tom Sanford and Ryan Schneider (who also have work in the show) were joined by fellow exhibitors Kamrooz Aram, Liz Markus, and Lisa Sanditz.

The questions asked by Mr Coggins were from artists and non artists who he emailed for suggestions prior to the panel. It offered a nice mix of technical and personal insight into the artists work.

What work do you have at home?

Most of the work artists have on the walls of their homes are done by their friends. Obtained either as gifts or as part of an exchange.

Tom claims to have over 50 pieces of art which drew "Wow's" from the audience of about 40 enthusiasts.

For Kamrooz, friends of his that aren't painters usually are photographers so he has works of theirs on his walls. Also he likes to pick up early works of artists as he takes an interest in seeing how their work changes over time.

Liz mentioned that she has a self portrait a friend of hers did while they were in grad school together. (Liz went to Tyler School of Art, Philadelphia). She also has images of dogs and horses.

Are you a "starter" or a "finisher"?

This question was brought up by Lisa who admits to being a "starter." She described the difference as follows: Starters enjoy the hammering it out part. Getting that blank canvas to start to take shape. Finishers have a harder time starting (I'm a total finisher then) and are fine jumping into it once the foundation is in place.

Tom put it this way: the first 1/3 of the painting is exciting and fun, the middle 1/3 is a strain as reality of how much work is left to do sets in, and the last 1/3 is fun again. Tom's a finisher. He adds that being a painter is a pain because it's such a slow medium. As rewarding as it is, I couldn't agree more.

For Kamrooz, it depends on what he's making. It's either a method of plan/execute or build as you go. He considers a painting to be finished once the artist stops painting it. Well yeah. His timeframe for a painting is spending about 6 hours at a time on it though months can go by before it returns to a painting to complete it.

Liz is a finisher. Similar to Kamrooz, she either knows what she wants to paint before she starts painting or she knows the process she wants to take. 

Ryan is a finisher as well (Score: Finishers = 3, Starters = 1, Kamrooz = 1). He finds the start frustrating (I hear ya) with the whole needing paint to dry stuff. The great experience/feeling comes from completing the work.

Does your work end up as you envisioned it or does it change along the way?

For Ryan, the idea is usually set in mind. Tom put an interesting spin saying that art is one type of documentation that is allowed to be correct. Very good point. It can stir controversy but noone can argue that the artist's view is incorrect.

To be continued with the artists thoughts on:
  • Your thoughts on the divide between ideals and evidence. What you want to convey versus what you see.
  • Inventing work with its own internal logic or leave something for the audience to grasp?
  • Do you have more in common with conceptual or abstract style?
  • Do your paintings surprise you?
  • Discuss source material as it relates to your work.
  • What musician or band has influenced your work?
Other Artists in the Show Include:

Colleen Asper, Paul Brainard, John Copeland, Holly Coulis, Justin Craun, Van Hanos, Daniel Heidkamp, Aaron Johnson, Emily Noelle Lambert, Wes Lang, Eddie Martinez, Brian Montuori, Michael Williams and Jeremy Willis

Monday, July 12, 2010

Does smeared paint on canvas leave you feeling dirty?

Try Orbitz gum.....hahahaha. That laugh felt good.

So back to painting. When it comes to totally abstract work, it's mostly a miss for me. If you appreciate some structure, like myself, please raise your hand.

Even with my own work, my 'abstract' paintings aren't full blown

'throw all caution and lines to the wind' 

type of abstract. Just that it's lacking something to recognize within the painting. I'm thinking it through though as I go along.

I started thinking about this when I had a reaction to some works in a gallery I visited recently (neither gallery nor artist will be named). My reaction was to tell the world that those paintings were a piece of crap. Random sh*t on a canvas doesn't do it for me though a Jackson Pollock, for example, would.

The difference?

How I imagined it being done in both technique and scale. 

The creation of a Pollock work is like a workout as he is always moving around the canvas. Sometimes he would think about where the dribble of paint or brush stroke would be and of what color and sometimes he would just let the drops fall as they may.

However there are works, mostly on a small scale, that look like complete crap and is taking up valuable gallery wall space. It's one thing if a kid in kindergarten is just playing around and it might be cute if you know the kid. Yet if someone who considers him/herself an artist is just smearing paint on canvas, I just want to hang my head. Was the artist pressed for time so they threw something together? It's something I personally can't make sense of.

Ultimately, it's a matter of perception

If the artist is happy with it, and there is someone in this world that would want to pay for it, fantastic.

Me, however, will continue to put thought into what I paint and how it's painted. Everyone is welcome to like, love, hate, or not care as they will.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Paying tribute to the traditional roles of women

Currently, Ceres Gallery [547 West 27th Street Suite 201] has an exhibit featuring their member artists which closes Saturday July 17th. I'll get to my thoughts on some of the work I saw in a moment. First I want to give props to Ceres. I didn't know it existed until I visited (gallery spaces in Chelsea turn over fairly frequently). The mission of Ceres is:

"...a non-profit alternative center dedicated to the promotion of contemporary women in the arts.... We believe that the arts provide an important social service and that art has the power to enhance and enrich the quality and depth of our lives." Ceres brochure

AWESOME stuff Ceres. Hopefully artists in any career and creative part of their life can also appreciate what you're doing.

The work that were shown at this exhibit was wide-ranging in size, subject matter and techniques. The work from their member artists here:

One portion of the gallery space featured work by Dare J. Boles Lot of Women. One of the 16 she has on display is shown here.

Dare is a mixed media artist using patterns, pictures of faces and objects, as well as textures to create layers in her work. Without the use of shadows, the work remains very much 2-dimensional. The pieces at this exhibit was no larger than 16'' x 20'' and all reasonable price ranging from $325 - 900. Huge difference from a non-profit versus a for-profit where you would see several more zero's on the price list (of course through the sale of work is how the galleries help to pay the rent).

She had an interesting mix of work all centered around what womens roles are within their respective societies. Her pieces spanned from African, Asian, Muslim, American, African-American cultures as well as several others. She adds "Historically, a woman's role in life has been determined by society." The same goes for the role of men.

"I am inspired by the sunny climes of the Caribbean, the rich colors of Africa, and the quiet beauty of the Asian culture. Always, my art is about finding unique and personal means of expression and a continuing search for ancestors." Dare J. Boles artist statement

In some societies these roles of care-giver are positions women are born into and perhaps not encouraged to think for herself while for others, it has now become a choice to have your purpose to be that of pleasing men or to be a housewife. One may feel that women in the world have come a long way to claiming independence as entrepreneurs, Presidents, Prime Minsters and choosing to be single mothers. In Dare's work, are the women in her work unfulfilled or content? From her pieces, I felt respect for those that have and have had these roles. IT just made me think about what I would be doing if I lived in the 1800's or even 800's. 
Fortunately, I'm happy in my present.

Friday, July 09, 2010

Spray! was only OK (I'm glad I went to other galleries after this one)

From "um, alright" to "DAMNNN", here's the beginning of what I thought about four exhibits I checked out in Chelsea:

Today I intended on going to only two exhibits in Chelsea. Given the HIGH concentration of galleries in that area, there is always to possibility of spending an entire afternoon or evening gallery hopping. For this evening, I ended my hopping with four gallery visits which were (ranked below from "eh" to "WHOA"):
This review will explore Spray!
"...these works celebrate spray paint's ability to create atmosphereic layers that seem to extend beyond the frame."  D'Amelio Terras Press Release

Spray! was an exhibit I was looking forward to, but I was personally disappointed by most of the work there. Fortunately there were a couple of pieces I felt were worth bringing to your attention. 
The quote above from its press release reminds me of Dan Christensen's  Pavo, 1968, Acrylic on canvas which can be viewed here. This belongs to a series of loop spray paintings he created in his career. Beautiful, simple and airy from the valve of a spray can shows how he was able to control the medium. The various intensity of the colors makes the loops feel like they are flowing in and out of the canvas as well as overlapping and intertwining with one another. Makes me think of dozens of hula-hoops being scattered about. Hula-hoops are airy and fun as well as this piece.
"Armed with a palette knife and a spray gun, Keltie Ferris grapples with the idiom of gestural abstraction."
This piece of Keltie Ferris had me staring at it for a while. There was so much going on in the piece. It felt chaotic like it wanted to be geometric but wasn't allowed to or that it wanted to be random with no structure but the few rectangles in the piece wasn't going to allow that to happen. I walked around and ended up coming back to the piece. I even went to the gallery website on my phone and saw that it photographed completely differently and that just made the piece that much more interesting. I can't find a good image of the work I'm referring to but you can see similar pieces online at
There was one other piece that was a white on white painting that I thought was cool and I'm completely blanking on the name of the artist. That makes it hard for me to find an image or similar images of the work to show you. Once I do I'll update the post.

Bottom line on Spray! Other than 2 or 3 pieces out of the 11 shown, Spray! was a blah experience in my opinion. Experience it for yourself though!!! Address and links are at the top of this post.
This is only one person's opinion. If you agree, disagree or feel indifferent about the show, let me know.
All the artists on view at Spray! are:
Dan Christensen, Keltie Ferris, Katharina Grosse, Jacqueline Humphries, Rosy Keyser, Yayoi Kusama, Robert Moskowitz, Jules Olitski, Stephen Prina, Sterling Ruby, David Smith